Gaffer reflects on a game of two halves after going down at Vale Park
Graham Turner said his side’s first half showing at Vale Park was a “mystery.” Town – beaten 3-1 at Port Vale today – were much brighter in the second period and looked well capable of salvaging a point before a late, late third for the hosts secured the points.
“In the first half we just stood in our areas,” said the Town boss. “We barely sprinted and didn’t work hard enough. We allowed them to have too much of the ball and dictate the play. They’re very good at what they do. They’re very strong, very competitive and it was 38 minutes before we managed to string four or five passes together. We got Liam through just before half time for a very good chance and then in the 2nd half we started to sprint a bit and worked hard. We stopped them playing a little bit and started to get some movement off the ball. It’s been a mystery to me that we’ve been totally in our shell for the first 45 minutes frightened of making a mistake. But we started to make some forward runs just before half time so in that respect there’s a little bit of encouragement ‘cos before that we played second fiddle to them all over the pitch.”
Graham felt that there was no particular hangover from last week’s poor show at Walsall: “This is a different game altogether. The two sides play very differently with Walsall looking to get the ball down and Port Vale being a little more direct and powerful, so it’s a different type of opposition we’ve had to face. They caused us a few problems but in the second half but at least we got ourselves into some good crossing and shooting positions. Players have to realise that if they want to win games they have to work a lot harder than they did in the first 40 minutes or so. There’s a suggestion that the shackles come off when we go a goal or two behind but I don’t subscribe to that particular theory. We were outplayed on the first half but showed good character to get into some good positions after the break.”
Turner was asked if he felt an equaliser was on the cards once McAlinden had reduced the arrears on the hour. “You’re hoping that a good opportunity is going to come your way,” he said. “I thought we got into some good positions and I was hopeful that we might have got something with the attacking options we had.”
GT said it was a different set of players to last season and that the winless run away from home stretching back to last March shouldn’t affect a new group of players: “It’s a fresh group of players and a fresh season so there shouldn’t be any hangover. What this result does mean is that the two home games coming up have become of paramount importance to us and we have to put a side out that will work hard for each other. Defensively from set plays today we were poor and we have to show willingness to sprint from the off. To be fair to the players that’s what they’ve done at home so we have to take good points from the two games.”
The manager was happy with Gozie Ugwu’s contribution with the striker having joined on loan from Reading a couple of days ago. He felt the hold up play and link-up play caught the eye and that he showed good touches and awareness of those around him.
GT was asked about the mood in the camp. “They’re deflated in there, you can’t be upbeat when you’ve lost 3-1. You can look at the third goal and say it was academic but we still conceded it,” he said. “We’re stronger now player wise than we were earlier in the season and Liam’s got three goals for us so we need to push on.”